Roman Catholic Church. 1838-9 by Matthew Ellison Hadfield. Early English Gothic style. Sandstone with slate roofs.
Reason for Listing
The Roman Catholic Church of St Peter, Stalybridge, of 1838-9 by Matthew Ellison Hadfield is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architect: St Peter's is an early example of a Gothic design by the notable Catholic architect Matthew Ellison Hadfield, who went on to have a long distinguished career as an ecclesiastical architect, working in partnership as Weightman, Hadfield and Goldie, subsequently with George Goldie, and later with his son Charles Hadfield;
* Architectural interest: the simple Gothic detailing of St Peter's is typical of early-C19 Gothic prior to the rigorous adherence to medieval precedents advocated by A W N Pugin;
* Historic interest:: the interior is an impressive single-span space unbroken by side galleries or aisle arcades and echoes the legacy of Catholic worship in barns and private rooms when the emphasis was less upon ceremony and more on the Mass;
* Fixtures and fittings: the elaborate high altar of 1869 is by the notable ecclesiastical architect Edmund Kirby and is indicative of how earlier, simple churches were often enriched at a later date by their congregation in a desire to make them more distinctively Catholic in appearance.
In 1834 Father Richard Brown had started a 'night school' in Stalybridge, but building work on a church did not begin until 1838, when the foundation stone was laid by Matthew Ellison, agent to the Duke of Norfolk's northern estates. The building was an early work of the architect Matthew Ellison Hadfield, nephew of Matthew Ellison. Hadfield was to become noted for his ecclesiastical designs. He was subsequently a partner of the well-known ecclesiastical architectural practice Weightmen, Hadfield and Goldie until 1858, then Hadfield and Goldie until 1860, and finally as M E Hadfield and Son from 1864 until his death in 1885. The church cost £5,000 raised by subscription from the Catholic population. Contemporary accounts noted that they were aided by contributions from neighbours of various denominations.
In 1868 the stained chancel glass windows illustrating the life of St Peter were smashed during the anti-Catholic 'Murphy Riots' when the churches and property of Catholics in a number of towns in the North West were attacked. In 1869 a new high altar and reredos were added to designs by Edmund Kirby; it is likely that the chancel windows were blocked at this time. The sculptors were Messrs T R & E Williams of Lombard Street, Manchester, and the metalwork was by Messrs Hardman and Co of Birmingham. The relief arches framing the sanctuary were later adorned with elaborate stencilled decoration, which has since been painted over.
The church was refurbished in 1929 when various works took place and new confessionals were built.
In the mid-1980s the high altar was brought forward and reduced in size as part of a re-ordering. At the same time the 1901 pulpit was dismantled and used as parts of an ambo (raised reading stand) and a font.
In the very late C20 a single-storey day chapel was built attached to the north side elevation of the church.
The original building date of the presbytery is not known. The 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map of 1875 shows the building to have been shorter than the present footprint, with a small walled garden on its south side. It is likely that the presbytery was extended southwards in 1926 when it is known that alterations and additions were made at a cost of £2,500.
A modern parish centre was built in 2006. It replaces an earlier school building in the same position.
Roman Catholic Church. 1838-9 by Matthew Ellison Hadfield. High altar and reredos 1869 by Edmund Kirby. Early English Gothic style. Sandstone with slate roofs.
PLAN: a rectangular plan of a four-bay nave and a single-bay east sanctuary under a single roof.
EXTERIOR: the church is built of coursed, rock-faced stone with larger blocks of ashlar stone used for the west front which faces the street, a plinth, ashlar window surrounds, and stone eaves brackets, and it has a double-pitched slate roof. The west front is symmetrical with corner angle buttresses and buttresses flanking the wider central bay, all topped by octagonal pinnacles. The central arched doorway has an attached column to each side and a hood mould over with carved-head corbels. The timber double doors are studded with decorative ironwork hinges. Above the doorway is a triplet of lancets. The outer bays each have a tall single lancet. The east front has a blocked triplet of lancets with a square, steepled-pinnacle at the apex, and octagonal pinnacles to corner angle buttresses. The lower part of the elevation is obscured by a row of three modern, single-storey, pitched-roof buildings used as a garage and storage. The side-elevation bays are separated by shallow buttresses, with a single tall lancet to each bay. The fourth lancet to the south elevation and second and third lancets to the north elevation have been shortened where modern extensions have been attached. All the church windows have modern geometric glazing.
INTERIOR: the church has full-span, shallow king post trusses with struts. The walls are plastered and painted white. The sanctuary is articulated by shallow relief arches to the walls. The east wall has a large central arch flanked by a lower and narrower arch to each side, with a single arch to both side walls. The stone high altar reredos and tabernacle by Edmund Kirby are set within the central relief arch. A Crucifixion scene, with relief-sculpted figures painted in gold, is set in a crocketted and enriched gable flanked by pinnacles. The tabernacle is polished alabaster with brass doors. The narrower side arches each have a coloured marble altar with a Gothic timber reredos; the left altar incorporates a statue of the Virgin Mary and the right altar incorporates a statue of Joseph holding an infant Christ. The high altar is set forward. It is of Sicilian marble supported on three green marble columns with two panels of Caen stone carved with medallions. To the right is an ambo formed from part of a 1901 Gothic stone pulpit; four columns from the same pulpit now form the support for an octagonal stone font to the left of the high altar. A doorway within the sanctuary relief arch on the south wall leads through to the presbytery and sacristy. To the rear of the nave is a west gallery with a timber lattice front, iron spiral staircase in the south-west corner and a pipe organ at the right-hand end of the gallery.
EXCLUSIONS: the sacristy attached to the south elevation of the church and the west wall of the presbytery, the very late C20 single-storey day chapel and the 2006 parish centre, both attached to the north elevation of the church, and the modern, single-storey garage and storage buildings attached to the east elevation of the church are excluded from the listing.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.